About Me

Hi and welcome to Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen!
My name is Nadia and I live in Manchester, England.

 

Background

Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq to an Iraqi dad and an English mum. Growing up in Iraq during the 90’s and early 00’s was difficult to say the least. The sanctions imposed on the country by the UN destroyed our economy and even though my dad is an engineer, educated in the UK with a PhD under his belt, he barely made enough money to feed me and my brothers. 

I remember times during my primary school years when I used to wear my brother’s trousers and then throughout high school wearing my cousin’s hand-me-down clothes. My dad would take me shopping once a year, usually just before Eid celebrations and I remember only being allowed one or two items (which usually was something I NEEDED for school rather than wanted). I remember a point when we were only allowed one teaspoon of sugar to make one cup of tea per day.

Things were bad, but I know we still had it so much better than so many other people living in Iraq! 

My amazing mum cooked everything from scratch. She had to. There was no such thing as ready meals, and hardly any packaged foods apart from things like crisps, biscuits and chocolates, which were considered a luxury so we didn’t get to enjoy many of those. It made more sense financially to buy fresh produce, which I now realise looking back was a good thing! We ate what was available in season.

I’ve always had anxiety issues, ever since I can remember. I guess the situation in Iraq and the way it was affecting people around me had a direct impact on my confidence and the way I dealt with things. I remember a lot of stress and anger surrounding me. Also, being a girl in Iraq meant I didn’t go out much. I used to spend the school holidays locked up indoors with nothing to do. If you try to imagine being in the house for almost four months (remember this was before mobiles, internet etc.), you may understand why I felt so depressed. 

There was a lot of pressure to excel academically and if you didn’t (which was the case for me, especially when comparing to my brothers and other relatives) you were made to feel shame and belittlement; a feeling of not being ‘good enough’. This, of course, fed into my anxieties and made them that much worse. I grew up with low self-esteem and feeling insignificant. 

Over time, these negative emotional feelings started to manifest physically in the form of chronic inflammatory conditions. So now, not only do I have to deal with anxiety, but also eczema, IBS and chronic pain. 

Moving to the UK

My mum, younger brother and I flew over to England in 2004 (a year after the second Gulf War had started) for what was supposed to be a short visit to see my mum’s family (who she had only seen a few times during the 30+ years she lived in Iraq due to the wars and financial issues). The situation in Iraq was only getting worse so we decided to stay and try to build a better life for ourselves. The move was a massive culture shock and it wasn’t easy adjusting. I was so happy to leave Iraq because for once in my life, I had a sense of freedom – I could walk down the street on my own without guys looking me up and down, like I’m some creature they’ve never seen the like of before! 

Moving to England also meant my diet completely changed overnight. All of a sudden I was eating lots of junk food – pizzas, microwave meals, crisps, chocolate and all the other things I felt I had missed out on all those years. Also, the fact that junk food was cheaper made it all that more appealing. My mum was looking for a job and we hardly had any support from the government, so we were living on a tight budget. Before I knew it, I started piling on the weight and my IBS became ten times worse. I was getting cramps, abdominal pain and bloating. That’s when my interest in ‘healthy food’ started, although to begin with, I had it figured out all wrong. I was focusing on low fat, just like the magazines were telling me and still ended up eating lots of junk that had almost no nutritional value. 

Why I changed my diet

In 2008, I had the worst eczema flare-up of my life and it was on my face. The worst place imaginable! When it was at its worst state, my whole face was inflamed. The skin became thick, red, itchy, flaky and I simply looked awful, and I felt even worse. My confidence reached a full-time low. The eczema initially started appearing as small patches for which I was given a steroid cream that I used for a year, but as soon as I stopped using it, the eczema would return. I came across the side effects that long term use of steroids have on the skin and the health in general (because they’re absorbed into the system, not just the skin!), so I decided to go cold turkey and quit steroids. That’s when the flare-up exploded and that’s when I started looking into natural ways of controlling it.

2012-07-15 23.24.03

eczema

(Excuse the bad quality of the photos – I took them using an old mobile with a bad camera in 2008 and these were the only ones I took during the flare-up, as I didn’t want to look at myself and didn’t think I would ever need the photos in the future)

I spent a lot of time researching health, healthy eating and the impact it had on the body, specifically my chronic conditions. I slowly started changing my diet and eating habits and slowly started noticing a difference. I’m still not 100% eczema free and IBS free, but they’re both so much better than they once were. I get the odd flare up every now and then, but no where near as bad as I used to. 

Studying Naturopathic Nutrition

I thought if I could help myself through diet and lifestyle change, maybe I can help others, so I decided to enrol onto a naturopathic nutrition course. I’m now on my way to becoming a fully qualified nutritional therapist. There is a lot of contradicting information out there about food and diet that it’s difficult to know who or what to believe. Once I’ve completed my qualifications (in two years, fingers crossed!), I’ll be armed with the knowledge and experience that will enable me to help people who suffer with chronic conditions, want to lose weight or just be healthier in general.

Up until recently I’ve always felt there was no place for me in the world. I have now found something I’m extremely passionate about and I feel I have been given the opportunity to do something good and to help others, who like myself, have not been able to find answers to their conditions using conventional methods of treatment. The human body is capable of amazing things, and that includes self-healing. We just need to give it the means to thrive and function at its best capacity without using toxic and potentially harmful and invasive methods of treatment. 

What I Eat

I don’t follow any particular diet, but I have made a conscious decision to eat less meat and to only have it when served by relatives. The only meat I cook at home is fish/prawns but only every once and a while. I don’t like labelling my diet, but if I had to I would probably be referred to as a Flexitarian (flexible vegetarian) as I eat a plant-based diet most of the time but not strictly.

I avoid refined sugars, dairy, processed and packaged foods as much as possible. I make a conscious effort to only eat wholegrain (brown rice, wholegrain spelt, oats etc.). I try to be ‘good’ most days, but I do let my hair down every so often.

Healthy, wholesome food can be simple, quick and tasty! It’s not about living on salads and fruit. There are so many healthy foods that you can introduce to your diet. Also everything in moderation is fine (as long as you’re not allergic or have an intolerance, of course!). It’s all about finding a healthy balance and enjoying food and life :D.

Who are my healthy recipes suitable for?

The simple answer is EVERYONE! It does depend on the recipe though because I am aiming to make a variety of different ‘types’ of recipes. My recipes include:

  • Dairy-free recipes
  • Gluten-free recipes
  • Sugar-free recipes
  • Vegan recipes
  • Vegetarian recipes
  • Raw recipes
  • Generally healthy recipes
  • Pescetarian recipes
  • And some will be a mixture of the above (e.g dairy, gluten and sugar free)

A little disclaimer

I’m not perfect and I do have cheat meals/days. I eat good most of the time but I do feel that one-offs are fine, as long as I don’t over indulge. Everything in moderation is fine! Sometimes I cannot avoid eating what’s considered ‘unclean’ foods when I’m with family and friends.

I hope you enjoy my recipes. I am very much looking forward to interacting with you on here (via comments), Instagram, YouTubeFacebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

I’m not a dietician/nutritionist (yet!) but I’m well on my way to becoming a fully qualified naturopathic nutritional therapist and I’m still learning about food and nutrition. There is always room to learn and improve and I’m hoping that through interacting with you health lovers, I will inspire and be inspired by you guys!

Let’s help each other live a happier, healthier lifestyle 😉

Love,

Nadia xx

Founder of Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen, UK Health Blog

 

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Comments 14

  1. Thank you so much for this background section. It was really interesting to read and “learn to know” the person behind the recipes!

  2. Your about section is so touching! It’s so amazing to see you take a difficult life experience and turn it into a positive one. Very inspiring. I’m glad to have stumbled upon your blog. And of course, great name 😉

  3. Nadia, thank you for your honesty, it takes a lot of strength and courage to be so open about our vulnerabilities. Yet it is essential, as sharing our pain, our hard work, and our eventual triumphs helps other women know that they, too, can overcome hardship and shine. More than the changed skin, your eyes show the biggest difference; it is heartwarming and inspiring to see the confidence and light in your eyes in the most recent photo. Oftentimes, learning how to heal ourselves leads us to a secret treasure of uncovering and following our passions, which we can then in turn gift to the world. Thank you for sharing your gift.

  4. So great to learn more about you. I have a similar story. I am plant-based at least 80% of the time and call myself a meat reducer. I LOVE your recipes and food. So happy to have found someone in the UK.

  5. Nadia, Where are you doing your course? Would love to hear your honest feedback on it and if you have any suggestions for courses?

  6. Hi Nadia
    I’m so happy to have found your site. I’m a Canadian born to Iraqi parents. I was searching for a gluten free, refined sugar free klaichah recipe and came across your site.
    Love your energy, your are doing amazing work here and I’m appreciative of you.
    Thank you for being the gorgeous, smart, powerful woman you are!

  7. Wow Nadia your such a strong girl/woman. It was so interesting to read your story. God bless you. I stumbled across you on instagram, just liked your recipies instantly. I have also subscribed to your YouTube channel. I can’t wait to start trying your recipes, all of them that I have seen so far a just amazing.
    As you said it’s nice to eat healthy but tasty food. And diet and not what I want, I have realised that. I can put on weight very easily but, I learnt a lot in the past year about food and how much to eat as per my body type and counting macros. This is so important I am doing it now and it’s getting easy to manage my weight and feel so much better. And your recipies is going to make my life even more better 😊 You are going to hear from me a lot as I am going to hunt for all the awesome ingredients which you use.
    I live in Dubai, been here for more than 15 years. I am from India.
    It’s really lovely that I got to know you. And keep up the awesome work of sharing your knowledge with us.
    I wish you all the best for your studies, I am sure you will do great.
    Take care, much Love,
    Sherene

  8. Hi Nadia,

    I agree with everyone who posted above, you are a real inspiration. Thank you for your honesty. Well done for finding yourself. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease about 25 years ago and it was really bad! But through carefully listening to my body and what it wanted / needed, or should I say didn’t want and didn’t need, just like you I managed to heal myself 100%. Yes, really.

    What’s interesting is that I’ve met a lot of people over the years with Crohn’s and other IBS-like illnesses who have listened to my story and how I did it, but somehow never think that they can do it themselves. Maybe they are just waiting for a “magic pill” that will make it all go away without they themselves having to do any of the work. So not only did you work really hard to get to where you are – 7,000 plus page followers on facebook! You rock, girl! – but you had the self-confidence to follow your own instinct and not only survive but really thrive.

    Keep on keeping on.

    Elise.

  9. Wow, what a great “about me” article, and thank you! It’s always cool to learn a little about the person behind the camera and posts. Speaking of camera, you have some amaaaazing photos on this blog, my dear! I’ve added your site to my list of “fav food blogs,” and I look forward to returning often to see what other lish-looking recipes you’re creating! –G

  10. Nadia, I found your site looking for a good(!!) recipe for chickpea flour pizza crust. Now I am SO excited to try more and more of your recipes. I’m on a journey to get healthier and stronger and to clean up my eating habits. I think you’re going to be a big help. 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      I’m so happy to hear that Christine 😀 I hope you enjoy the rest of my recipes! And let me know if you have any requests. I would love to help as much as I can 🙂

  11. What an inspiring story. your blog site is fabulous. your dietary issues mirror my niece who also had such severe flare-ups and eats now as you do. Thank you for being out there and sharing.

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